Management priorities at auto repair shops in the U.S. have changed dramatically since the coronavirus pandemic upended business in March.
According to a new survey from IMR Inc., shop owners are now focused on keeping staff and customers safe.
The Illinois-based data company updated a survey it released at the beginning of the year. At that time, the biggest challenges shop owners identified were staying up to date with technology and finding technicians.
IMR interviewed 500 independent repair shops between May 4 and May 29.
“In order to add context to their challenges, it’s important to understand how the pandemic has affected independent repair shops and their staff,” said IMR president Bill Thompson. “The vast majority of shops (84%) had a decrease in revenue (84%) as well as staff reductions (54.6%) and pay reductions (86.8%).”
Not surprisingly, he said, independent automotive repair shops are now concerned about social distancing, staying in business, getting back to normal hours and, generally, recovering from COVID-19.
However, when asked about what shops believe their top challenges are for the remainder of the year, they believe getting parts on time, finding suppliers with parts in stock, dealing with rising parts costs and, in turn, adjusting to keep their prices affordable will be challenges they’ll need to mitigate for the remainder of 2020.
In January, when these questions were asked, shops were primarily concerned about keeping up advances in diagnostics (31.6%), finding quality techs (29.2%), having funds for advertising (26%), increasing parts prices (16.6%) and affording diagnostic tools (15.6%).
When it comes to the technicians working in the shop, working ‘full time’ to support their family, keeping themselves safe at work and keeping their family safe from COVID-19 are the primary concerns.
Many of the subsequent concerns that were named haven’t changed much, other than the order/frequency of being mentioned, from when this question was asked earlier in 2020.
In January, finding time for training was the number one response at 42.6%, now in May 16.6%, followed by staying on top of vehicle technology advances (31.1%), now 8.0%, and keeping up with advances in diagnostic technology (30.9%), now 12.4%.
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